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I should have known that when I wrote this post about The Inquisitr that the word comfortable in it was a mistake. I’ve never done comfortable well. There’s a thrill in blogging about where the next hit comes from (not unlike drugs), the next biggest high, the next level and hence we’re rolling the dice today.

We’re offering five blogging positions in a range of roles. Details on Darren Rowse’s Problogger here.

They’re hard to describe, and using the term entry level in the title for this post might be slightly disingenous, but likewise it’s something close to that. They’re something like an internship/ entry level position, and they share some qualities such as experience, exposure etc. But likewise we’re paying for them, be it not at the top of the market, but given dozens of networks including some of the big players hire “interns” like there is no tomorrow and pay them zilch, the positions offer some money. Compared to what I’m hearing from bloggers writing for content sites offering rev shares at the moment the rate is actually fairly high as well given what they are getting.

As we drive forward to 3 million page views a month (we did 1 million at 2pm on the 8th this month, our best week and a bit on record) we’re looking for ways to grow even more, so I see these positions offering benefits for us and each blogger. We obviously get more content, different views and hopefully interesting posts, and in return each successful candidate gets experience at the top end (while these aren’t I’ll hold your hand jobs, I’ll certainly be taking an active role in guidance), some extra money, and either a top level job with us one day (may not happen, but it’s an option depending on performance and our finances as a result) or a stepping stone onto something better.

We treat all our bloggers equally irrespective of their pay rate, seniority, experience or what not, and these positions will be no different, although they do come with lower posting requirements.

If we fill these spots our regular posting compliment rises to 10, and add another 3 on top for occasional guest/ CPM spots.

This whole debate over player behavior in Rugby League is bizarre. On the radio the other morning, John Faine went as far as comparing RL to AFL, suggesting that the problem was one of Rugby League’s alone.

Of course that’s bollocks. Anyone who has ever been around a football club of any code knows that these problems are evident in all, and you only have to go through the record of the AFL and see players there mucking up.

But what if the problem was one of sport, or male team sport in particular?

Consider this: DUIs the biggest off-field problem for NFL

The drinking problem is happening in the US as well. The difference in the US perhaps is that group sex wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

First birthday post on The Inquisitr here.

I won’t do a huge stats post this month. Short version: 2.34m page views, just over February’s previous record of 2.31m I also managed to screw up the GAnalytics code this month, so there’s a day and a half missing in the total count. I’m guessing the total was around 2.45m.

Technorati out to 235. Weird month. We got in as close as 120 at one stage, then out to over 300. The six months prior was a growth time, so we’re not getting as many links as we’re losing, but not by much.

Finances were down CPM off March, which isn’t surprising given March was a strong month. The counter was more traffic in April which means while we made less this month, it wasn’t as big a drop as it might have been. We’re also ahead of Jan/ Feb on a CPM basis, so although it’s disappointing to see a drop, it’s not as bad as it once was. Overheads are up in April with the addition of two CPM based writers, which will be bigger again in May with Paul Short being made permanent.

Stilgherrian is perhaps one of Australia’s best tech writers, and I enjoy his Crikey columns, but we’ll disagree on a quote today:

Yes, $43 billion is expensive. As Duncan Riley calculated, that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s around $5000 per household. But we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re creating brand new infrastructure to completely replace a copper network that was built across more than half a century. This is an investment on similar time scale.

The problem with that statement is two fold. One, we’re not replacing the copper network. Telstra owns the copper network, and I haven’t heard that they’re about to rip it out. It still does a fine job at delivering my ADSL 2+

Second, we’re not creating brand new infrastructure: in large parts of capital cities, we’re duplicating it, because Telstra and to a lesser extent Optus (and a couple of bit players around the place) already have fibre in the ground. The point may be one of semantics: the NBN cables will be “new,” but the context is one that suggests its new because it doesn’t currently exist.

The last point to me is a key one. Instead of forcing Telstra’s hand, or using legal means to use the infrastructure currently in place, the Government is spending $43 billion on a network that will duplicate some of what’s already there.

Lets presume you put Telstra’s network into the mix, but the Government still wants everyone else to get fibre. I can’t find a definite figure on Telstra’s current network, but the figure in Melbourne alone was “1 million customers.” One figure I saw suggested Telstra was aiming for 6m customers, but I don’t believe that figure. Lets say it’s 3 million Australia wide.

There are 8.296m households. Each one costs $5,063 to service. 3m = $15.2 billion in NBN costs.

Telstra has a market cap of $41.6b. How much would it cost to buy Telstra’s cable network, presuming you didn’t want to force Telstra’s hand by other measures? Even if it cost $10b to acquire, you get a network in the ground now that needs maybe $1 billion in upgrades (the Melb upgrade is priced at $300m) and you save $4.2billion. But here’s where it’s even better: because you’d also cut the rollout time from 8 years to maybe 5 by not having to roll out fibre to those places that already have it.

See what I mean now about duplication and waste?

Stephen Conroy on SBS’s Insight: video here.

Lots of waffling.


Conroy: If an Australian website has material that is deemed to be refused classification – a number of other classifications also – they’re issued with what’s called a take-down notice – for the overseas websites at the moment all ACMA can do if they’re identified is write to the overseas server and ask them to not do it – which means nothing, in effect.

Actually, the same program had a site owner who’s site had been added to the blacklist who didn’t know his site was added to the blacklist. If they’d received a takedown notice, they would have know.

MARK NEWTON: Or it can be X-18-plus, which is legal for adults to buy and view everywhere in Australia. Or it can be R-18-plus and not behind a restricted access system. R-18-plus material is legal to view in public cinemas – any adult can walk into a cinema and see R-18-plus movies but they are prohibited content on the internet in Australia and then the most outrageous one which is also the most recent addition which came into force in January this year ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú sorry – last year – prohibited content on the internet in Australia includes material which is MA-15-plus sold for profit and not behind restricted access systems. This is material which is legal to view on free-to-air television which is prohibited on the internet.

Conroy: This is one of the great furphies that people have wanted to engage in to try and create a scare campaign about what we’re actually proposal. I on have only ever identified refused classification in terms of child porn, bestiality, rape, incest sites – those sorts of things. For adults who want to be able to watch the other material we’re not proposing to do that – we’ve never proposed to do that.

Actually, prohibited content does include what Mark Newton details, even ACMA confirms it.

STEPHEN CONROY: Refused classification and there’s a legitimate debate – I think Mark wants to have a debate about what – there are different categories within refused classification. There are always marginal issues about some material, whether it falls in or falls out.

Actually, no there’s not. RC is still RC, even if there is different criteria in getting to the point, unless Conroy is proposing new RC sub-categories.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Conroy claims that the Blacklist won’t be used in the censorship regime

FIONA PATTEN: Currently, currently it says X-rated material, R-rated without age verification, anything that’s refused classification. So, I mean, I’m very pleased to hear that X-rated will no longer be on the black list. It’s currently on it. Certainly there are – I mean, I have members who have sites who are currently on the black list. Again, they didn’t know that they were on the black list until it was leaked. And it hasn’t ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú

STEPHEN CONROY: This is the – people, again, keep confusing between what we’re proposing and what is on the existing black list. These were categories created by the former government and they are the current law.

or maybe not?

FIONA PATTEN: We’ve actually never heard that existing black list prohibited content and was going to change, that you were actually going to relax that. This is the first I’ve heard that this list is going to – the proposal is going to be very different from the existing black list that we have of ISPs.

JENNY BROCKIE: And is that right? Can you clarify that ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú that your proposal would not be like that black list.

STEPHEN CONROY: Look, as I said, the existing black list was passed by the Parliament. Now the Senate has 39 votes. The Liberal Party introduced this and they’ve got 37 and Steve Fielding is elected Family First Senator and he’s got strong views in this area. That’s 38. You cannot repeal this. Even if the Labor Party decided it wanted to try and change this, it actually won’t pass the Senate.

So the blacklist, which is currently law, can’t be overturned. But wasn’t Conroy not using it???

Previously: “It is possible to support a blacklist and support free speech.”

Also the trail of filtering…uses the blacklist. See Optus here.

Deny deny deny

MARK NEWTON: We’re getting away just for a moment from the fact that you also voted in favour of those changes – it’s a bit rich to disclaim them now. The existing definition of refused classification doesn’t only contain all of this extreme pornography stuff that we have spent most of the night talking about so far – the existing ACMA list also includes – because it was refused classification and you know this because you testified in the Senate about it – it also includes an anti-abortion website and it also include the peaceful kill.

STEPHEN CONROY: That’s not correct, Mark.

But it did. We know it did. Conroy and ACMA have admitted that a page on the site was blocked.

Waffle waffle waffle

Courier Mail: Stephen Conroy’s internet filter ‘won’t stop child porn’

Question then, if it won’t stop child porn, why do it at all?

After all, it was Conroy who continually said that the filter was all about child porn.

“Black lists are needed to combat child pornography” Conroy (The West)

On the overall policy: “It also focuses on managing current threats through technical mechanisms such as ISP-level filtering of illegal material including child pornography.” Conroy (speech)

“Central to the Government?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s plan to make the internet a safer place for children is the introduction of Internet Service Provider (ISP) level filtering of material such as child pornography.” Conroy (media release)

“Conroy told the media that it would censor online child pornography and other ?¢‚Ǩ?ìinappropriate material”” WSWS

“If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.” Conroy (ABC)

“We are not building the Great Wall of China. We are going after the filth – like child pornography. Its been done around the world and it can be done here.” Conroy (IT News)

The last quote is important: Conroy now claims that the filter isn’t a silver bullet, but said that the filter was all about blocking child porn, which he now says it won’t stop.

So what is it then?

Time to go Senator Conroy, if you keep up these backflips you’ll end up with a broken back.

One last quote out of the UK, which I think fits here
BT admitted that the UK’s “Cleanfeed” scheme was “intended to prevent users inadvertently accessing illegal material, rather than to stop hardened paedophiles.” ZDNet

Sort of sums up Conroy’s policy doesn’t it.

On March 3, the Reserve Bank in Australia (RBA) abolished bank intercharge fees on ATM’s in favor of a pay to use system where consumers pay a rate determined by the owner of the ATM.

This was allegedly about reducing charges for consumers, and providing a more transparent charging regime.

SMH March 24

Reserve Bank assistant governor of financial system Philip Lowe says the reforms of ATM fees, which came into affect on March 3, have increased competition and benefited consumers.

Dr Lowe said that across the entire system most cardholders were paying no more for ATM transactions than previously and some “may have the opportunity to play less”.

What has happened since March 3 is that most foreign ATM’s (that is, ATM’s not owned by the bank you bank with) now impose a $2 withdrawal charge.

In theory, you can opt not to cop the fee by only using your own banks ATM. But what if your bank or bank like institution doesn’t have ATMs, or more particularly an accessible supply of ATM’s.

My credit union doesn’t.

Until March 3 I could use any ATM and not cop a charge. As of April 1 (the Credit Union is rebating the fees this month) I’ll have to pay money to withdraw money from an ATM.

Oh, but you can use EFTPOS or the PostOffice. Great. The reason I switched to my current Credit Union is because my last Credit Union ran the same line and I never had free use of ATMs. The current credit union has teamed up with some other credit unions for the “Redi” ATM network, but the nearest one is 10 kms away and no where near anywhere I regularly go.

So the RBA says that I should be saving money, but now I’ll be paying fees where I never have before, and there’s really no 24/7 alternative.

Thing is, there are still a fair few small credit unions around with a similar setup, particularly employee related Unions.

In effect, the RBA has actually done more in entrenching the big four and reducing competition than it ever has before. Little credit unions can’t compete on ATM’s, and customers want access to fee free ATM’s. The big four with their army of ATM’s win out.

An epic failure in public policy.

Is it illegal for Australians to link to the alleged ACMA blacklist on Wikileaks?

Here’s ACMA quoted at

ACMA threatens fines of up to $11,000 a day for linking to sites on its secret censorship blacklist

I’m not a lawyer, so I could be wrong, but is it actually illegal for individuals to link to the list?

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Act 2007 which details Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Act and the links offense refers to “service providers” in Section 62 and I can find no reference to individuals.

I make the query because when ACMA went after a link to prohibited content on Whirlpool, they didn’t go after Whirlpool or the person who posted the link, they went after the web host. From The Oz

On March 10, ACMA issued Sydney web hosting company Bulletproof Networks with an “interim link-deletion notice” for allowing its customer, the Whirlpool internet community website, to post the link to an anti-abortion web page blacklisted by the regulator.

This doesn’t negate the fact that sites hosting links to prohibited content under the act can and are deemed prohibited themselves, only that the individuals may not be liable under the Act for placing the link, only the web hosts who are hosting the link.

Personally I haven’t linked to it, although I commend those that have. Ultimately I don’t want any site I own on the Governments blacklist for commercial reasons, so it’s a risk I’m not willing to take, because despite possibly no individual liability, sites can and will be banned.

If anyone knows differently, let me know, I could be wrong here, but this is how I read it.

Update: it could possibly be argued under different parts of the act (or a different act) that the act of linking is the promotion of illegal material and may be illegal, but even in this case, the $11,000 fines relate to “service providers” and not individuals.

I probably should just duck and hide before writing this.

There’s a storm in the blogosphere over a post Erick Schonfield made on TechCrunch last week alleging that gave user data to the RIAA.

Erick isn’t exactly on my Christmas card list, and I’d be the last person to naturally want to defend either Erick, or TechCrunch, but I’m going to.

I’ve read and re-read the post, and I don’t see that it’s quite as bad as people make out.

Yes, the data was incorrect, untrue, a lie…what ever you want to call it. But that’s the nature of tips: some work out to be true, some don’t. Some are great scoops, some ride the fail train.

The question then becomes: which ones do you publish, and how do you publish them.

If you read the post carefully, Erick clearly points out that this is a rumor, and actually publishes the tip clearly marked as such.

He then goes into padding out mode (the mode you go into when you don’t have a lot to write about) where he talks about the broader privacy implications if the rumor is true.

Not once in the post did he say categorically that it was true.

He also made attempts to contact both the RIAA and gave a one line response that clearly didn’t rule out the proposition “To our knowledge, no data has been made available to RIAA.” That’s not a categorically no we didn’t type response. That’s a response that says to me that it might have happened, but the person writing that line isn’t aware of it (hedging bets).

There are of course broader implications of printing such rumors in terms of the effect it can have on a company at the receiving end. That’s a debate left to others, but I’d note that if no lead, tip or leak was ever published, the role of the media (including blogging) as a accountability watchdog would cease to be.

I ask myself what I would have done if I had received the same tip, and although I might have worded the post a little differently, the difference would be small. I would have run that post if I was still at TechCrunch. I might not run it today because I don’t have a highly paid team of lawyers backing me up, but I would consider it.

Love them or hate them, TechCrunch got to where it is today off the back of exclusives and being first. Sometimes they get it wrong, but so to does just about everyone at some stage.

I’m not suggesting that TechCrunch shouldn’t be criticized ever, and that much of the debate around this topic shouldn’t be taking place as much of it is healthy in terms of looking at the broader ethics and placement of blogs, but in part “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”

Shame Darwin Shame

February 20, 2009 — 4 Comments

I’m sympathetic to old diggers still holding a grudge against the Japanese given the historical context, but in 2009 there’s no place for this, particularly when a lot of the message is coming from people born well and truly after WW2 who simply don’t have an excuse to hold a grudge.

Age: Japanese ship unsettles Darwin

TERRITORIANS paused to remember the 1942 bombing of Darwin yesterday, but for some the commemorations were marred by a Japanese vessel docked in the harbour…..

Controversy rose over the presence of the Tokyo University ship Umitaka Maru, docked at Stokes Hill Wharf only metres from the ceremony. “A lot of people are very upset about it being there,” said Andrew Burford from the Maritime Union.

Mr Burford said he had been inundated with calls from people, outraged that the vessel, in Darwin to pick up supplies, could be berthed so close to the ceremony.

Japan is Australia’s No 1 export market, we’ve been at peace with Japan since 45, and trading with them since the mid 50s. It reeks of unfounded Xenophobia.